The Theban necropolis lies in strange contrast to the bustle of Luxor on the opposite bank of the Nile. Over 450 tombs spanning more than a thousand years, some fully excavated and recorded, others tantalisingly described by travellers but now lost, form a maze-like network of passages and caves. The decoration of many of the tombs, particularly those of the Eighteenth dynasty, provides some outstanding examples of ancient Egyptian painting and relief work and reveals fascinating details about the lives and beliefs of their owners. Some of the tombs were re-used and display contrasting styles of workmanship, while many were colonised in more recent centuries by peoples with scant respect for the tombs of their ancestors: many well-paintings are blackened and burnt beyond redemption.
The author traces the history of the site discussing the more important tombs in some detail, and sheds new light on the symbolism used in painting to help the deceased in the Afterlife. She also surveys the role of the treasure hunters and travellers of the eighteenth and early nineteenth-centuries and the pioneer epigraphers who followed them and paved the way for the archeological investigation and research that continues today.
Like their regal counterparts in societies around the globe, ancient Maya rulers departed this world with elaborate burial ceremonies and lavish grave goods, which often included ceramics, red pigments, earflares, stingray spines, jades, pearls, obsidian blades, and mosaics. Archaeological investigation of these burials, as well as the decipherment of inscriptions that record Maya rulers’ funerary rites, have opened a fascinating window on how the ancient Maya envisaged the ruler’s passage from the world of the living to the realm of the ancestors. Focusing on the Classic Period (AD 250–900), James Fitzsimmons examines and compares textual and archaeological evidence for rites of death and burial in the Maya lowlands, from which he creates models of royal Maya funerary behavior. Exploring ancient Maya attitudes toward death expressed at well-known sites such as Tikal, Guatemala, and Copan, Honduras, as well as less-explored archaeological locations, Fitzsimmons reconstructs royal mortuary rites and expands our understanding of key Maya concepts including the afterlife and ancestor veneration.
The pyramids of Giza have stood for more than four thousand years, fascinating generations around the world. We think of the pyramids as mysteries, but the stones, hieroglyphs, landscape, and even layers of sand and debris around them hold stories. In Giza and the Pyramids: The Definitive History, two of the world’s most eminent Egyptologists, Mark Lehner and Zahi Hawass, provide their unique insights based on more than four decades of excavating and studying the site.
The celebrated Great Pyramid of Khufu, or Cheops, is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world still standing, but there is much more to Giza. Though we imagine the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure and the Sphinx rising from the desert, isolated and enigmatic, they were once surrounded by temples, noble tombs, vast cemeteries, and even harbors and teeming towns. This unparalleled account describes that past life in vibrant detail, along with the history of exploration, the religious and social function of the pyramids, how the pyramids were built, and the story of Giza before and after the Old Kingdom. Hundreds of illustrations, including vivid photographs of the monuments, excavations, and objects, as well as plans, reconstructions, and images from remote-controlled cameras and laser scans, help bring these monuments to life.
Through the ages, Giza and the pyramids have inspired extraordinary speculations and wild theories, but here, in this definitive account, is the in-depth story as told by the evidence on the ground and by the leading authorities on the site.
Excavations of Maya burial vaults at Palenque, Mexico, half a century ago revealed what was then the most extraordinary tomb finding of the pre-Columbian world; its discovery has been crucial to an understanding of the dynastic history and ideology of the ancient Maya. Over the years, new analytical tools introduced uncertainties regarding earlier interpretations of the findings, and a reanalysis of the remains of the ruler Janaab’ Pakal using contemporary methodologies has led to new interpretations of former accounts of his life and death.
This volume communicates the broad scope of applied interdisciplinary research conducted on the Pakal remains to provide answers to old disputes over the accuracy of both skeletal and epigraphic studies, along with new questions in the field of Maya dynastic research. Contributions by scholars in epigraphy, anthropology, and bioarchaeology bring to light new evidence regarding the ruler’s age, clarify his medical history and the identification of the remains found with him, reevaluate his role in life, and offer modern insights into ritual and sacrificial practices associated with Pakal.
The book leads readers through the history of Pakal’s discovery, skeletal analysis, and interpretation of Maya biographies, and also devotes considerable attention to the tomb of the “Red Queen” discovered at the site. Findings from the new Transition Analysis aging method, histomorphometric analysis, and taphonomic imagery are presented to shed new light on the perplexing question of Pakal’s age at death. Royal Maya life and death histories from the written record are also analyzed from a regional perspective to provide a broad panorama of the twisted power politics of rulers’ families and the entangled genealogies of the Maya Classic period.
A benchmark in biological anthropology, this volume reconsiders assumptions concerning the practices and lives of Maya rulers, posing the prospect that researchers too often find what they expect to find. In presenting an updated study of a well-known personage, it also offers innovative approaches to the biocultural and interdisciplinary re-creation of Maya dynastic history.
Jesper K. Boldseh
Jane E. Buikstra
James H. Burton
George R. Milner
T. Douglas Price
Sam D. Stout
John W. Verano
A visit to Ankara, Turkey, would include a trip to Anitkabir, the burial site of Turkey’s founder and first president, Ataturk. The massive stone building houses numerous sculptures and a large ceremonial plaza and is surrounded by an elaborate park. Ataturk is far from the only former leader to be remembered by such decorative means. Since the beginning of human history, societies have built tombs and mausoleums to house the remains of people who changed the course of history. These grave sites exist not only as sites of memory for different cultures, but also serve the political needs of subsequent regimes. Tracing the development of the political burial places since the Bronze Age tumuli, Tombs of the Great Leaders explores what attracts pilgrimages to these sites, how politics play out in these locations, how they convey meaning and safeguard a person’s immortality, and how history is commemorated through these structures.
Looking in depth at tombs built in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Gwendolyn Leick surveys the history of these modern leaders, their deaths, and the creation of the mausoleums. She traverses the globe, investigating the memorial sites of Communist leaders such as Lenin, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and Kim Il-Sung; Fascist rulers Franco and Mussolini; and founding fathers of new nations, including Ziaur Rahman in Dhaka, Mohammed Ali Jinnah in Karachi, and Sun Yat-sen in Nanjing. Leick describes the experience of visiting the sites, the responses they elicit, and the context in which they are viewed today. Combining history, architecture, and travel writing, Tombs of the Great Leaders is a revealing study of the self-perpetuation of politicians, despots, and dictators alike.